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Theological Matters

Theological Insights from Southwestern


What is the Value of Apologetics?


There are, on my view, a variety of values that can be had by practicing what we call Apologetics. Let’s first say what Apologetics is as a discipline. In its most general sense, apologetics is a preparatory discipline where one readies oneself to commend and defend the truth of Christianity. What immediately comes to mind for many of us are the overly cerebral arguments one may offer in defense of the faith. These are the ones that, for many, cause immediate eye glazing to occur. They may include formal arguments for God’s existence; historical evidence for the resurrection; addressing challenges, such as the so-called problem of evil; alleged contradictions in Scripture; and alleged moral issues in Scripture as well as a whole host of other academic topics. These are indeed in the corpus of Apologetics topics. However, on my view, commending and defending the faith may at times be much less cerebral. Read More »

Christ in the Old Testament


In Luke 24 Jesus showed Himself alive to His disciples and explained that the cross and resurrection, and indeed much else in His life, were predicted in Scripture. Verse 27 states: “Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted for them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” Then in verse 44, He told them “that everything written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Read More »

Top 10 Questions about Your Church’s Ministry with Teenagers


If I were a senior pastor I would print the following list of questions, and I would take it to staff meeting for discussion. I would expect discussion to involve everyone. For example, I would expect those in ministry with children to consider how 12 years in their program will address question #1. I would expect those in adult ministry to have much to say about questions #7-9. I would expect those who lead senior adult ministry to address question #10 with creativity. And of course, I would keep the youth pastor at the heart of all the conversations. Read More »

Do Not Neglect the Table: A Reminder to Parents


I remember wondering why I could not have the little piece of bread and the small cup of juice that my friend Noel was able to take. I did not question my parents on that Sunday morning, but later asked my mom and she explained that Noel had given his life to Jesus, and you could only take the Lord’s Supper after you had become a Christian. She then explained the Lord’s Supper and the gospel. It was the beginning of my searching and as I was further exposed to the gospel (particularly one night at the parsonage at Falls Baptist Church in Wake Forest, North Carolina) eventually on June 14, 1981 my mom led me to the Lord and I put my faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Read More »

Church Revitalization: Let’s Keep the Conversation Going


There is a conversation that is getting louder in Southern Baptist circles, and it is one that I am very excited about. The SBC website says we are a network of over 45,000 churches with nearly 16 million members, but the reality is that we have a great percentage of churches that are plateaued or declining. I have seen statistics showing between 70 to 80 percent of our Southern Baptist churches are at this point. Any honest observation would admit there are many sick, dying, or even dead-and-just-do-not-realize-it-yet churches. Read More »

Stop, Drop, & Pray!


If you have walked in Christian circles for any amount of time at all, it has happened to you. An individual confides in you about a prayer need in his or her life and requests that you would pray for them. How do we respond? I’ve never heard anyone say, “No, I don’t have time for that, but good luck.” Of course not, we normally quickly respond that we will pray and go on about our business. Sometimes we remember the request and pray about it quickly, but I will confess there have been times in my life that I have completely forgotten about the matter and have been unfaithful in my commitment to pray for my brother or sister. In essence, I have lied to someone. I told them I would do something and failed to do it. Read More »

Re-gaining an appreciation of the Old Testament

Marcion of Sinope lived in the second century during some of the most formative years of the early church. The son of a bishop, he was also active in the church as a teacher in the region of Asia Minor. In 144 A.D., Marcion parted ways with the Christian community by starting his own movement, and by doing so, encouraged thousands through his teachings to better appreciate the Bible. Read More »

The Senior Pastor and Transformational Student Ministry


Pastor, you can decide to support youth ministry for one of two reasons. First, you can decide to support youth ministry because you ought to—in the same way you ought to support every ministry of the church. On the other hand, you can decide to support youth ministry because you see it as a strategic and powerful way to fulfill the vision you have for your church and for the coming of Christ’s kingdom on earth. Read More »

Who Is Getting Married Today?

Marriage rates are rising according to an article published in USA Today this week. They report about an expected rise in marriage rates over the next few years after a progressive decline since the recession. The report from Demographic Intelligence of Charlottesville, VA, predicts a 4% rise in the number of weddings over the low point in 2009. From 2007 to 2009, the number of marriages in the United States dropped from 2.197 million to 2.080 million. Demographic Intelligence projects that the number of marriages will rise to 2.208 million by 2015. Read More »

The Lost Virtue of Humility

Humility is very commonly thought of as a matter of self-deprecation. The thought seems to be that the more we put ourselves down, the more humble we are. This has led some philosophers throughout history to deny that humility is even a virtue but is instead more of a vice. However, this popular understanding is decidedly not the biblical notion of humility. The biblical notion of humility has very little to do with how we understand our worth or importance. Our worth is fixed by being created in God’s image. Furthermore, Jesus is the exemplar of living a life of humility (see Phil. 2:3-11). So His humility couldn’t have anything to do with his worth, since he is infinitely worthy. And we don’t ever see Jesus putting himself down. The Christian notion of humility, as exemplified by Jesus, is an attitude of how to relate to others. It has to do with our actions and the ends to which they are directed. More specifically, humility done Christianly is when one is oriented away from self and has God as one’s end. Read More »

Guiding Teenagers to Love the Church


Just use your imagination. One of your teenagers has graduated and has just started his freshman year at college. It is the first Sunday morning. Asleep in the dorm, he hears his phone alarm go off at 7:00 am. Will he get up and find a new church or roll over and sleep until noon? Read More »

Dr. Seuss and Good Bible Reading


My three-year old son loves to “read” Dr. Seuss’s Hop on Pop. Of course, he does not actually read the words (especially “Constantinople” and “Timbuktu”). However, he will flip every page and recite every word on the page, not missing more than a couple words in the whole book. Boy genius? No, just a whole lot of repetition. So, in his case, you could say that the secret to good reading is re-reading. While Seuss was a creative writer and his classics are certainly worth the re-read, something about this particular book has captured my young son’s little mind. He wants to read it every day. He wants us to read it to him. He wants to read it to us. With every read, he becomes more familiar with its words and images. He has even connected each episode in the book into a larger story, so that you cannot miss one part without having to go back and “read it right.” It is also fun to watch him trying to connect the scenes with reality as he weighs the morality of “We fight all night” or wants me to play “hop on Pop” with him (which I usually turn into a tickling match). Read More »